Happy first day of summer! While summer technically doesn't start until the end of June, depending on where you live, it's been summer for quite a while already. And one of the best things about summer, in my opinion, is eating ice cream! So, today I'm going to be sharing with you the best ice cream you can eat!
We were in San Francisco last month to visit some family and friends, and go to a concert. Because we were driving all that way for just a long weekend, Delaney and I were thinking of what else we could do while in the area. Neither of us had ever been to Petaluma before, so we thought we'd check it out since we were so close. So I reached out to my friend Alec, of Alec's Ice Cream. He was nice enough to offer to show me around their factory, and of course we talked all about his amazing ice cream (that I love!). For the record, my favorites are the Chocolate Chocolate Chip and of course Mint Chocolate Chip. I think I ate almost an entire pint of the Mint Chocolate Chip after we left the factory!
Alec's Ice Cream is the first organic A2 regenerative ice cream on the market. This is a whole slew of fancy words that basically add up to – better ice cream that you can taste, better ice cream for your tummy, and better ice cream for the planet. It's not hard to understand when you put it that way. But, since it is a lot of new terms, I thought it would be great to interview Alec so he can share some of his knowledge with everyone. And then you can start changing the world by simply buying ice cream! Everyone has to start somewhere, so why not with something as sweet as ice cream?
Mimi: How did you get into the organic food space?
Alec: I’ve always loved ice cream — very much so that I taught myself how to make ice cream for a project in elementary school and brought it in to share with the class. I also grew up around family members who had significant involvement in the agroecology and sustainable agriculture movement. Both of these personal and family interests came to be life-defining and as I grew up. I realized there wasn’t an ice cream on the market that tasted good, was good or you, and was good for the environment. So in 2020 I decided to launch Alec’s Ice Cream to combine my life-long sweet tooth with my passion for sustainability. Alec’s Ice Cream is the first and only premium, regenerative-verified & USDA organic certified ice cream utilizing 100% A2 dairy — the most natural and highest quality milk that allows for easy digestion, unlike the majority of dairy on the market, which is A1 dairy.
M: What is regenerative farming?
A: Regenerative farming is a holistic farming system that works to reverse climate change. It helps maintain the longevity of critical resources like soil nutrition, plant and animal health, water conservation, and more. It also brings animals and plants together in a carefully managed system that utilizes ancient farming practices that ultimately create healthy, biodiverse ecosystems that allow both animals and plants to positively impact their environment. This leads to a balanced ecosystem that can help reverse climate change by pulling carbon out of the air and into the ground.
At Alec’s the environment is the core ethos of the company. All of our ice cream is made using carbon neutral, regenerative organic certified cane sugar and we partner with a single-source, family owned and operated A2 dairy farm in Northern California that specializes in regenerative farming practices – which means they use holistic farming practices that actually reverse climate change (think: through the use of cover crops and carefully managed grazing cows, regenerative farming is actually making a positive impact on the food we eat and the world we live in).
M: What does that mean for ice cream?
A: 98% of our ice cream base ingredients are certified or verified regenerative — we use the world’s only certified regenerative organic A2 dairy and carbon-neutral regenerative cane sugar. We work with resourceful and revolutionary suppliers, including Alexandre Family Farm, a regenerative A2 dairy farm in Northern California, who are doing it right—and making a huge impact in the process. Also, Alec’s is a member of Regenerate America, a coalition of independent farmers and ranchers, experts, and companies (like Applegate, Timberland, The North Face, and Dr. Bronner’s) whose goal is to revive regenerative farming in the face of growing land shortages, water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss.
M: Can you explain A2 and how that relates to ice cream?
A: To give you a little bit of context on the difference between A1 vs. A2, these are the only two types of dairy on the market and A2 dairy is the original dairy. Originally, the only milk available was milk with A2 proteins, but over 1,000 years ago a genetic mutation occurred in modern dairy cows and created A1 dairy, which is now the most common form of dairy on the market and has been known to cause digestive issues. The difference between the two is that change in amino acids, which affects how the proteins are broken down in our bodies.
We only use best in class ingredients that come together to create an ideal texture, creaminess, and flavor for the ultimate indulgent experience that we all want in our ice cream. We currently offer six flavors rooted in nostalgia – Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel Latte, Honey Blueberry Lavender, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Matcha Chocolate Chip.
M: What does that mean for the person eating the ice cream (or dairy)?
A: A1 (the most common, form of dairy on the market) has been shown to affect gut movements negatively and causes inflammation and is the reason that many people struggle to digest dairy, while A2 (the OG dairy) is easier to digest particularly for people with existing digestive issues and/or a mild lactose intolerance, which most people develop after childhood. So, the simplest explanation is that A2 is easy to digest and really easy on your stomach.
M: So, that means people that have had dairy sensitivities in the past could possibly enjoy your ice cream with no problems?
A: Yes! Before I found out about A2 dairy, I always had to choose between great tasting ice cream and not feeling so great after eating ice cream. Now, I feel totally fine after eating ice cream and we have seen people at the company and their family members experience this as well!
M: Luckily, I've never had a sensitivity to dairy, and that's good, because I eat a lot of it! But, with ice cream specifically, I have noticed that I tend to break out. But when I eat Alec's Ice Cream, that's not the case so I believe it's the A2 dairy. So if anyone else has had a breakout associated with ice cream, then it's just another reason to give this A2 ice cream a try!
M: What’s your favorite flavor?
A: I love all of our flavors, but if I had to pick one, I would say Chocolate Chocolate Chip. We make a double chocolate ice cream base that has an almost fudgy or creamy mousse like quality that is unlike any chocolate ice cream I’ve tried. And then we add in our chocolate chips that just melt in your mouth for the ultimate chocolate combo. I think my favorite part of this flavor is how many people tell me they never really liked chocolate ice cream until they tried ours.
M: Well, I don't know who doesn't like chocolate ice cream, that is seriously my go to every time, that and Mint Chocolate Chip! So how do you like to eat ice cream the most (sandwiched between two cookies, with pie, by the spoonful, on cone… etc.)?
A: My favorite way to eat ice cream is pulling a fresh pint off our production line for a “taste test”. There is truly nothing better than ice cream fresh out of the freezer. Outside of that, I like to make an ice cream sandwich with my top secret chocolate chip cookie recipe.
M: Haha, since Alec isn't sharing his cookie recipe, try my Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies for making ice cream sandwiches as they are extra chewy and soft, which makes for the best kind of ice cream sandwiches! And I think this cookie would go well with pretty much every single flavor Alec makes…
M: When we were touring your facility, you were telling me about the homogenization of ice cream, and why it's important. Can you explain that?
A: A homogenizer is a machine that pushes the ice cream mix through two small gaps at very high pressure in order to reduce the size of the actual fat molecules in the mix. Homogenizing the ice cream mix has multiple benefits. Without getting too deep into the science of it all, it helps prevent the mix from clumping and turning into butter, makes the ice cream more resistant to melting, and most importantly helps make a creamier tasting ice cream with a smoother texture!
M: I always feel like homemade ice cream isn't as good as store bought. It is right from my machine, but once I freeze it, then I feel it's lost its luster. So, is this why it's so difficult to make ice cream at home?
A: That is partly why. Additionally, after making your ice cream, you want to get it as cold as possible as quickly as possible to prevent ice crystals from forming. At our factory, we're able to use freezers that get as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit which help freeze the ice cream as quickly as possible.
M: Ah, as quickly as possible, I think that's my problem as whenever I make ice cream, I stand at the counter over the machine and eat it out of there, until I've had enough. Then I transfer it to a container and put in the freezer.
A: One secret of ice cream making is that ice cream actually tastes the best when it has just been whipped. It has a soft-serve texture and tastes delicious. That said, if you're looking for a consistently great ice cream experience that you can easily pick up at the store or buy on our website, then we can help with that!
M: So where can people buy Alec’s Ice Cream?
A: You can find us in cities from coast to coast including Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Our current retailers include:
- Fresh Market
- New Seasons
- Mother’s Market
- Mom’s Organic Market
- Nugget Market
- Good Eggs
- Mollie Stone’s
We’re also gearing up to launch in even more markets like Los Angeles through retailers in the coming months like:
- Safeway in Northern California
- Plum Market
- Better Health Market
M: And, he forgot to mention his own website! You can buy Alec's Ice Cream directly on their site, and it will ship right to your door. That's how I get it, as we don't have it here in Mammoth yet. And now, excuse me, while I go eat some ice cream.
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